Run the Race

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
September 9, 2022

May we begin today with a prayer of gratitude and respect
for the remarkable life of service of

Queen Elizabeth II

sketch for the Queen’s Jubilee by Eleanor Tomlinson

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, there is a powerful urgency in Paul’s preaching.

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race,
but only one wins the prize?
Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.
They do it to win a perishable crown,
but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly;
I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it,
for fear that, after having preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Let’s face it: Paul must have been a seriously intense guy. I mean look at his life! Early on, he took it on himself to personally go around “murderously” persecuting Christians. He got knocked off his high horse in a bolt from heaven, was struck blind, cured, and converted. This man did not live a laid-back life!

Conversion of Paul – Caravaggio

In today’s scripture, Paul tells the Corinthians to have an equal passion in living out their Christian faith. He describes his own complete dedication and chosen sacrifices to live and preach Christ’s message, saying:

All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

In our Gospel, Jesus says that to live the faith sincerely, we must be rid of anything that blinds us. Paul got his corrected vision in a lightning induced horse-fall. Maybe we need similar drama to achieve ours. Or maybe we just need to consistently place our judgements, beliefs, passions, and convictions before God humbly asking for the grace of discernment.

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
“Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’”
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”


Poetry: The Racer – John Masefield

And as he landed I beheld his soul
Kindle, because, in front, he saw the Straight
With all its thousands roaring at the goal,
He laughed, he took the moment for his mate.
I saw the racer coming to the jump,
Staring with fiery eyeballs as he rusht,
I heard the blood within his body thump,
I saw him launch, I heard the toppings crusht.
Would that the passionate moods on which we ride
Might kindle thus to oneness with the will;
Would we might see the end to which we stride,
And feel, not strain, in struggle, only thrill.
And laugh like him and know in all our nerves
Beauty, the spirit, scattering dust and turves.

Music: Chariots of Fire – Vangelis

God bless Queen Elizabeth II
who has faithfully run the race.
May she rest in peace.

Alleluia: Lost and Found

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
August 19, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081922.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our Alleluia Verse and Psalm 107, grateful chants to God’s Mercy from the lost who have been found.

There are all kinds of “lost”. 

There are small “losts” like when I misinterpret my GPS and keep hearing “Recalculating route…”. 

Then there are huge “losts” like when a beloved dies and our life’s anchor breaks.

This morning’s psalm and reading are speaking of a particular kind of “lost”, one that comes from wandering away from Love, for whatever reason that happens to us.


As I pray these readings, the face of a good high school friend comes to mind. Judy was a super basketball player. Everything about her was vigor, coordination, and that all-American beauty that needed no makeup to impress anybody.

After graduation, I went into the silence of the pre-Vatican II convent and Judy disappeared into her future. When our five-year class reunion rolled around, I looked forward to reconnecting with her.

When I saw her, my heart broke. She was a shadow of herself, emaciated, listless, and lightless. She silently shouted a refrain like today’s verse from Ezekiel:

Our bones are dried up,
our hope is lost, and we are cut off.

We were both twenty-three years old. I was just beginning to grow into my hopes. Judy was already divorced, alone, and the mother of a father-starved child.

That kind of “lost” feels almost irredeemable. 


But Psalm 107 assures us that, in faith, no loss, no alienation is irredeemable.

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits God rescued them.
And led them by a direct way
to the healing of community.


Judy and I stayed in touch for a few years. Despite her troubles, she kept faith. That was the key.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

She did the hard work to find herself again with the help of family, friends, counselors, and a supportive faith community. Eventually, she remarried and was happy the last time I saw her before she moved to the west coast.


This morning, I see such apparent parallels between Israel’s and Judy’s story. That helps me look back over my own life for the same, perhaps not so dramatic, parallels and to be grateful for the many times God found me.

Let them give thanks for God’s Mercy
and wondrous deeds to us,
Because God has satisfied the longing soul
and filled the hungry heart with good things.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Poetry: Lost – Carl Sandburg

Desolate and lone 
All night long on the lake 
Where fog trails and mist creeps, 
The whistle of a boat 
Calls and cries unendingly, 
Like some lost child 
In tears and trouble 
Hunting the harbor’s breast 
And the harbor’s eyes. 


Music: Amazing Grace – Sean Clive

Alleluia: How Beautiful!

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 5, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer me an invitation to write a more personal reflection than usual.

Recently, our community has experienced the deaths of two dearly loved sisters. Readers might remember that I mentioned Margery’s funeral a few days ago. And just yesterday, Clare Miriam died. Each of them was an amazing minister of the Gospel and lover of God’s poor.

See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news, 
announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O beloved,
fulfill your vows!

Nahum 2:1

Because most of us live in communities – familial, social, and religious – we all move through ever-turning circles of hellos and good-byes. In those turnings, we touch one another’s lives in a thousand obvious and subtle ways, hopefully causing our own lives to spin ever closer to God.

Funerals – even though we don’t look forward to them – are times when the circling pauses. We see a beloved person’s complex and amazing existence like a still life masterpiece. We see the graceful details we may have overlooked or taken for granted. We appreciate the lights and shadows of their struggles and triumphs. We see God standing behind the easel of their story inviting us to deepen our own graces as we pray.

In a large and long-loved community like the Sisters of Mercy, we accompany one another through many funerals and many home-goings. It can feel a little heavy sometimes because of the love we bear another. But, oddly, it can also give an unexpected buoyancy to our hope and faith to honor these precious lives – one after another – so lovingly given, so faithfully lived, so beautifully completed.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.

Matthew 16:25-27

After Margery’s funeral Mass, my friend turned to me and said, “What a tribute to a truly beautiful soul …. and we live in a community full of them!” Indeed, and now another, dear Clare has lifted her life up to God as the rest of us sing, “Brava! Alleluia! Amen!”

Whenever I attend one of our sister’s funerals, of course, I consider my own. Sometimes, while the soulful music plays, I design the Mass booklet in my mind and the cover says this: 

My dear Sisters of Mercy,
thank you 
for the privilege and gift 
of living among you!


Poetry: The Neophyte- Alice Meynell

Who knows what days I answer for to-day?
   Giving the bud I give the flower. I bow
   This yet unfaded and a faded brow;
Bending these knees and feeble knees, I pray.
 Thoughts yet unripe in me I bend one way,
   Give one repose to pain I know not now,
   One check to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
 O rash! (I smile) to pledge my hidden wheat.
   I fold to-day at altars far apart
Hands trembling with what toils? In their retreat
   I seal my love to-be, my folded art.
I light the tapers at my head and feet,
   And lay the crucifix on this silent heart.

Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM

Alleluia: Shadows

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
July 15, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071522.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are woven through with themes of life and death, time and eternity. These are fundamental realities at the core of our lives. Yet they are so huge in scope that they elude our comprehension.

Photo by Rui Dias on Pexels.com
  • How often do we ask ourselves, “Where did the time, the day, the years go”?
  • Despite all our acts of faith, aren’t we still undone by death and bereavement in our lives?
  • When we try to imagine heaven, doesn’t the image slip through our efforts like a wet sunfish lost back to the sea?

In our first reading, Hezekiah faces the same kind of bewilderment. Informed that he is about to die, he laments:

“O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly
I conducted myself in your presence,
doing what was pleasing to you!”
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Hezekiah’s pleading gains him another fifteen years. (Would that our prayers could so prevail!) His bonus is delivered accompanied by a sign:

This will be the sign for you from the LORD
that he will do what he has promised:
See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun
on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz
go back the ten steps it has advanced.


In our Gospel, Jesus doesn’t need bonuses or signs. Jesus himself is the embodiment of Life over death, Eternity over time. In today’s passage, the Pharisees try to judge and limit Jesus’s spiritual freedom by invoking the old law against him:

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”


Jesus tells them clearly that he is the new law of mercy and love. He is beyond time, death, and the judgments of human law:

I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. 
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.

Let’s pray today with our God Who is greater than time, death or human judgments. Let us trust that God has power over any shadow that might darken our lives.


Poetry: The Shadow of Thy Wing – Susan Dickinson (Emily’s sister-in-law)

Weary of life's great mart, its dust and din,
Faint with its toiling, suffering with its sin,
In childlike faith my heart to Thee I bring.
For refuge in "the shadow of thy wing."

Like a worn bird of passage, left behind
Wounded, and sinking, by its faithless kind,
With flight unsteady, seeking needed rest,
I come for shelter to Thy faithful breast.

Like a proud ship, dismantled by the gale,
Her banners lost and rifted every sail,
In the deep waters to Thy love I cling,
And hasten to the refuge of Thy wing.

O Thou, thy people's comforter alway,
Their light in darkness, and their guide by day,
Their anchor 'mid the storm, their hope in calm,
Their joy in pain, their fortress in alarm!

We are all weak, Thy strength we humbly crave;
We are all lost, and Thou alone canst save;
A weary world, to Thy dear arm we cling,
And hope for all a refuge "'neath Thy wing."

- "Original Poetry." Springfield Daily Republican, March 1, 1862

Music: Cavatina’s “The Shadows” played by 2Cellos

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr
June 1, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus and Paul continue their heart-wrenching farewell addresses.

We’ve become accustomed to the passages and may read them without much emotional investment, but honestly they are real “weepers” – like movies where you have to bite the edge of your popcorn cup to keep from sobbing out loud.


paul-s-farewell-to-ephesian-elders-sacred-biblical-history-old-new-testament-two-hundred-forty-images-ed-st-69560609
St. Paul Bids Farewell to the Ephesians

Look at Acts, for example, and put yourself in the scene:

When Paul had finished speaking
he knelt down and prayed with them all.
They were all weeping loudly
as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,
for they were deeply distressed that he had said
that they would never see his face again.
Then they escorted him to the ship.

Acts 20: 36-38

blessing

The verses from John are not quite so emotional, but picture yourself being prayed over like this. You sense that this is really a final blessing. You know these may be some of Christ’s last words you will ever hear.

Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.

John 17: 11

As we pray with today’s scriptures,
we are reminded that
goodbyes are awfully hard.
We need to mourn them
within a community of faith
lest our hearts break
from their weight. 


So many of us, in these sorrowful times, feel the deep pain of those suffering senseless violence and unprovoked war. We can only imagine the loss of bereaved families in Buffalo, NY and devastated parents and children in Uvalde, TX. We feel anger and horror at the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

In the throes of such pain, we need to tell one another the stories of our loved ones, to sing together our belief in eternal life, to prove that we can still find joy in kept memories, to cry at the sight of one another’s tears, and to act for justice in the name of one another’s suffering. This is what Jesus did.

Jn17_11 keep

Let us find courage and sustaining hope in the core of Jesus’s message today:

Father, now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world

so that those you have given me
may share my joy completely.

All that we love, and may seem to have lost, is preserved and transformed – complete and joyful – in the infinite love of God. 

We too can be there in our prayer. We may be shaken by loss, but we are confident in faith. We know and believe that we are all kept in God’s Name. That faith gives us the power to transform our wounded world.


Poetry: Hymn for the Hurting – By Amanda Gorman
Ms. Gorman is a poet and the author of “The Hill We Climb,” “Call Us What We Carry” and “Change Sings.”


Everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed and strange,
Minds made muddied and mute.
We carry tragedy, terrifying and true.
And yet none of it is new;
We knew it as home,
As horror,
As heritage.
Even our children
Cannot be children,
Cannot be.

Everything hurts.
It’s a hard time to be alive,
And even harder to stay that way.
We’re burdened to live out these days,
While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.

This alarm is how we know
We must be altered —
That we must differ or die,
That we must triumph or try.
Thus while hate cannot be terminated,
It can be transformed
Into a love that lets us live.

May we not just grieve, but give:
May we not just ache, but act;
May our signed right to bear arms
Never blind our sight from shared harm;
May we choose our children over chaos.
May another innocent never be lost.

Maybe everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed & strange.
But only when everything hurts
May everything change.


Music: Aaronic Benediction – Misha and Marty Goetz

Holy Saturday 2022

April 16, 2022

Jesus in tomb
The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb by Hans Holbein (c. 1522)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we wait, entombed with Jesus. The waiting has a surreal sense every year as we commemorate this day with no liturgy of its own.  Within our Holy Saturday prayer, there is a depth of meaning that eludes words. So, let us turn to poetry as we daily do:

Eliot

Here are two poems that may help us explore the spiritual dimensions of Holy Saturday.

meynell

levertov

Music: God Rested – Andrew Peterson

Sailing home…

February 7, 2022
Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are woven through with the theme of “coming home”.

In 1 Kings, Solomon believes he has constructed the perfect home for God:

Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;
I have truly built you a princely house,
a dwelling where you may abide forever.”

1 Kings 8:13

Psalm 132 invites God to dwell in that home, and in the home of the psalmist’s heart:

Lord, go up to the place of your rest!

Psalm 132: 8

And in our Gospel, Jesus sails toward a quiet, homey place for peace and quiet:

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret
and tied up there.

Mark 6:53

Thinking of home, and sailing, and sea, my prayer this sunny morning is filled with thoughts of Ann. We, with fifty other young and vibrant souls, entered the convent together almost 60 years ago.

Among us, Ann was probably the only one who had ever sailed a boat. She was the child of surf and sand while most of us were children of bricks and trolley tracks.

She told me way back then how much she loved and missed the sea spray anointing her face as she sailed. She was then, and remained, a ray of freedom and delight.

Ann died a week ago after a Sunlit Life in God’s Mercy. I can almost see her grave from my window behind the Motherhouse, especially on this brilliant morning.

Reading Mark today, and picturing Jesus tie up his boat at the golden shore, I think of Ann on heaven’s morning – Spirit’s seaspray and sunlight come fully home.

Poem: Prayer – Renee Yann, RSM

You wait for me
to find morning’s
Eternal Edge.

Coiled prayer
slowly unwinds
within and around.

I see that You
sail forever
toward me.

Come,
tie up now
at my heart.

Music: Sailing

Paying Respect

February 4, 2022
Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Sirach gives us a beautiful eulogy for King David.

With his every deed he offered thanks 
            to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole being he loved his Maker
            and daily had his praises sung;
            He set singers before the altar and by their voices
                        he made sweet melodies…


A eulogy sets a particular frame of remembrance around a person’s life. Like Sirach today, that frame tries to capture the positive accomplishments of the person who has died. We set aside any mistakes and negativity. Or we acknowledge them as Sirach has done for David by invoking God’s forgiveness:

The LORD forgave him his sins
and exalted his strength forever.


To tell the truth, I’ve attended a few funerals where I wondered what the speaker might come up with in a positive regard. You know, you need more than a sentence or two for a decent eulogy! Despite my wondering, every tribute has provided an enriching lesson on the sacred beauty of a human life, and how hard most of us try — even if we make a ton of mistakes.

There are times when I leave such a life celebration thinking, “Gosh, I never realized that about him!” or “Wow, there are so many things we don’t understand about someone’s life!”

If only we could treat every living person with the same respect their eulogies inspire!


Icon of St. John the Baptist (16th c.) Dionysiou Monastery

In our Gospel, we read the sad and violent story of John the Baptist’s martyrdom. It’s a passage filled with the best and the worst of the human heart. One would wonder what kind of eulogy could have eventually been crafted for the likes of Herod, Herodias, and Salome!

But for John the Baptist, Jesus had given him the perfect epitaph even before John died.

I say to you, among those born of women 
there is no one greater than John;

In the verse, Jesus also reveals what it takes to earn greatest accolade in God’s eyes:

… yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God 
is greater than John.

Luke 7:28

When Jesus spoke that verse, John had not yet died. If Jesus said anything about John after his death, the words are not recorded. All we have is this poignant response from Matthew:

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it.
Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.
As soon as Jesus heard the news,
he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.
But the crowds heard where he was headed
and followed on foot from many towns.
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat,
and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:12-14


As we pray today with the legacies of David and the Baptist, we might consider what we’d want to see engraved on our own tombstones. I’ve told my friends I’d like to see this:

She was kind.

Still working on it! 😉

What about you?



Music: Lay Me Down – in this song, two icons of country music, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson sing their own kind of eulogy. (Lyrics below)

I raised my head and set myself
In the eye of the storm, in the belly of a whale
My spirit stood on solid ground
I’ll be at peace when they lay me down
When I was a child, I cried
Until my needs were satisfied
My needs have grown up, pound for pound
I’ll be at peace when they lay me down
When they lay me down someday
My soul will rise, then fly away
This old world will turn around
I’ll be at peace when they lay me down
This life isn’t fair, it seems
It’s filled with tears and broken dreams
There are no tears where I am bound
And I’ll be at peace when they lay me down
When they lay me down some day
My soul will rise, then fly away
This old world will turn around
I’ll be at peace when they lay down
When they lay me down some day
My soul will rise and fly away
This old world will turn around
I’ll be at peace when they lay me down
When I was a child, I cried

My eyes have seen …

February 2, 2022
Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin with a reading from the prophet Malachi, a hurler of fire and brimstone in the 4th-5th century before Christ. The reading is an interesting choice and begs the question of how it relates to this Feast when a little baby comes to be blessed in the Temple.

Presentation of Our Lord – Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Ah, perhaps that’s the hinge – the Temple, both actual and symbolic.

Malachi writes at a time when the second Temple has been restored. In other words, God is about giving the people a second chance to behave according to the Covenant. But they’re not doing such a good job — especially those in charge, the priests:

A son honors his father,
and a servant fears his master;
If, then, I am a father,
where is the honor due to me?
And if I am a master,
where is the fear due to me?
So says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests,
who disdain my name.

Malachi 1:6

Through a series of prophetic oracles, Malachi admonishes the people to repent before it is too late because no unrepentant soul will withstand the judgement.

Handel interpreted the Malachi passage below, sung here by the prize winning countertenor, Jakob Orlinski.

Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.


In the passage from Hebrews, Paul presents the perfect priest, Jesus Christ. In taking flesh, Christ’s Body becomes the new Temple of our redemption. We stand before judgement already saved by his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.


In our Gospel, two aged and venerable prophets wait in the Temple for the Promised One. Their extended years of prayer already have proven them faithful. Now, Simeon’s and Anna’s long and complete fidelity is rewarded by seeing their Savior. They know Him because they have already created a place for him in the temple of their hearts. Now, they will meet their judgement in total peace. As Simeon’s prays:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

Luke 2:29-32

The Nunc Dimittis is a beautiful,

total-hearted prayer!

Don’t we all hope to be able

to offer something like it

when the time comes?

Poetry: A Song for Simeon – T. S. Eliot

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.
Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have taken and given honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come ?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.
Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.
According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

Music: Music: Nunc Dimittis – Taizé (Latin and English text below)

Nunc dimittis servum tuum,
Now dismiss your servant
Domine, Domine,
Lord, Lord,
Secundum verbum tuum in pace.
according to your word in peace
Domine.
Lord.

No Regrets

February 1, 2022
Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

You have followed the story in these daily passages. Absalom rebels, designing to usurp his father’s throne. A massive battle rises between them. David, as commander-in-chief, remains behind, but gives instructions to his generals to spare Absalom’s life. Joab ignores the command, killing Absalom in a moment of vulnerability.

David is devastated.

David and Absalom – Marc Chagall
(Fair Use)

I think there is no more wrenching human emotion than regret. When I ministered for nearly a decade as hospice chaplain, and later in the emergency room, I saw so much regret.

People who had waited too long to say “I’m sorry”, “I forgive you”, “Let’s start over”, “Thank you for all you did for me”, “I love you”…..

Instead, these people stood at lifeless bedsides saying things like, “I should have”, “I wish…”, “If only…”


Life is complex and sometimes difficult. We get hurt, and we hurt others — sometimes so hurt that we walk away from relationship, or stay but wall ourselves off.

We might think that what is missing in such times is love. But I think it is more likely truth. In times of painful conflict, if we can hear and speak our truth to ourselves and one another, we open the path to healing.


If you want the truth, I’ll tell you the truth.
Listen to the secret sound,
the real sound, which is inside you.

Kabir

That healing may demand adjustments, agreements, even a willingness to step apart in mutual respect. But if the changes emerge from shared truth, restoration and wholeness are possible.


David and Absalom never found that path because they were so absorbed in their own self-interests. Theirs was the perfect formula for regret – that fruitless stump that perpetually sticks in the heart.


Poetry: How Clear, How Lovely Bright – A.E. Houseman

How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
    Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea   
Soars the delightful day.
To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
    Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
    I never kept before.
Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
    Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
    Falls the remorseful day

I remember a trauma surgeon leaving the hospital late one night after an unsuccessful effort to save a young boy who had been shot.

The doctor carried the loss so heavily as he walked into the night barely whispering to me, “I’m just going to go home and hug my kids.”

As we pray over David and Absalom today, let us examine our lives for the fractures that are still healable and act on them. Let us “hug” the life we have within and all around us. Regret is a lethal substitute.



When David Heard – Eric Whitaker ( The piece builds. Be patient. Lyrics below)

When David heard that Absalom was slain,
he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept,
and thus he said;

My son, my son,
O Absalom my son,
would God I had died for thee!

When David heard that Absalom was slain,
he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept,
and thus he said;

My son, my son.